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Why Teamwork and Communication Are Critical in Nursing

In contemporary healthcare settings, it is rare for patients to be under the care of only one provider. Instead, an interdisciplinary team of healthcare professionals delivers patient care, and nurses must have the necessary preparation and skills to work as part of a team. An RN to BSN program prepares nurses to be participants in the delivery and management of patient care.

Why Are Teamwork and Communication Important in Nursing?

Patient care today is more complicated than ever due to an increasingly large aging population that has one or more chronic conditions such as diabetes, cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer's or kidney disease. Because these illnesses are complex, there is a need for specialized care, which has resulted in a multidisciplinary approach to treating patients.

With teams made up of different nurses, physicians and other healthcare professionals, it is important that they clearly and effectively communicate with one another to build strong work relationships, share resources and solve problems. Healthcare team members focus on patient-centered care by doing the following:

  • Cooperating with one another
  • Exchanging information
  • Integrating electronic medical records
  • Providing timely informed consent

How Does Teamwork Help Patients?

When teams coordinate care, they decrease the level of stress patients may experience and positively affect outcomes. In addition, teamwork may reduce the number of issues related to burnout in nurses. As team members, nurses are not the sole providers of care so they do not carry the entire responsibility for a patient's health. They have the support of their teammates to help them make decisions.

According to the study "Multidisciplinary In-Hospital Teams Improve Patient Outcomes: A Review," teams that consist of nurses, physicians and other staff can reduce morbidity rates while increasing patient and healthcare worker satisfaction. By working cohesively in an effective manner, healthcare teams can accomplish the following goals:

  • Enhance patient safety.
  • Improve clinical performance.
  • Cut down on medical errors.
  • Ease patient concerns about treatments and procedures.
  • Raise efficiency and lower healthcare costs.

What Listening Skills Help Nurses With Patient Assessments?

The healthcare team relies on solid patient assessment for planning a course of action. For nurses to gather the necessary patient information, they have to be good listeners. To properly assess patients, skilled nurses use the following listening skills:

  • Stay relaxed.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Smile.
  • Sit at the bedside facing the patient.
  • Refrain from making judgements or criticizing the patient.
  • Keep from interrupting patients while they are talking, and wait for pauses to ask questions.
  • Repeat back to patients what they have said.

What Communication Skills Do Nurses Need?

It is imperative that nurses competently communicate with team members. Great communication skills include:

  • Active listening
  • Awareness of nonverbal cues
  • Confidence
  • Flexibility
  • Constructive feedback
  • Honesty and courtesy
  • Empathy
  • Verbal clarity

Healthcare teams have a common purpose: to provide safe, optimal patient care with successful outcomes through communication and collaboration. Nurses who complete an RN to BSN program are prepared to succeed as part of a healthcare team.

Learn more about Eastern Illinois University's online RN to BSN program.


American Hospital Association: Focusing on Teamwork and Communication to Improve Patient Safety

The Balance Careers: Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Surgical Neurology International: Multidisciplinary In-Hospital Teams Improve Patient Outcomes: A Review

HealthStream: The Importance of Communication in Nursing

Chron: The Advantages of Teamwork in Today's Health Care Organizations

Forbes: 10 Steps to Effective Listening

Medical News Today: Teamwork, Communication Training Recommended to Ensure Surgical Safety

HRH Global Resource Center: Why Is Teamwork in Health Care Important?

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